Walter Winchell

Walter

Bio

Walter Winchell was born April 7, 1897, and died February 20, 1972.

He married Rita Green on August 11, 1919. They separated a couple years later and he moved in with June Magee. June had already given birth to their first child, Walda. Although they never got married, they had two more children, one son, Walter Jr., and another daughter, Gloria, whom they adopted. Winchell and Green officially got divorced in 1928.

In 1924, he started working for the New York Evening Graphic as a drama critic and columnist.

He retired on February 5, 1969, due to his son committing suicide on Christmas in 1968 and June’s rapid decline in health.

In 2004, Winchell was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

 

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Winchell’s World

During the bulk of Winchell’s journalistic career, there was drama and war.

He worked in the journalism field from 1924 until he retired in 1969. He reported through many wars, protests, and movements including prohibition, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, and part of the civil rights movement.

Although he did not cover the wars, Winchell did write about civil rights and Communism. His work consisted of personal papers, radio ads and shows, partial movie scripts and his columns, these were all donated to the New York Public Library Archives and are available on location.

He was a good friend of Owney Madden, who was New York’s number one gang leader in the 1930s.

He was also a good friend of the FBI director at the time, J. Edgar Hoover.

He was one of the first commentators in the U.S. to attack Adolf Hitler during World War II. In the 1930s, he was a pro-Roosevelt, pro-labor and pro-Democratic party.

 

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Winchell’s Contributions

Winchell was the pioneer of gossip. He began gossiping for the New York Evening Graphic in 1924 and continued throughout his career. Being friends with hundreds of celebrities, he had all of the information to dish out. He certainly started the trend of gossiping about celebrities and their entire lives.

Winchellism– “a pejorative judgment that an author’s works are specifically designed to imply or invoke scandal and may be libelous”

Some examples:

for falling in love- “uh-huh,” “sizzle for,” “garbo-ing it,” and “pashing it”

for marriage- “altar it,” “middle-aisle it,” “handcuffed,” or “sealed”

for having a baby- “infanticipate,” or “get storked”

for alcohol- “giggle water”

*basically he was a punny guy*

Radio- He had a radio program beginning in 1932 until the 1950s. He was opinionated which attracted both fans and haters. His show made him one of the nations most prolific phrase-makers.

 

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Winchell’s Quirks

He and two friends, Eddie Cantor and George Jessel, had a singing act called the Imperial Trio at the age of 13. They were asked to join Gus Edwards’ School Days a song and dance act on the vaudeville circuit.

Soon after, he joined Rita Green (future wife) and toured the country. During this time he began writing for The Vaudeville News.

An extra “L” was accidentally added to his last name on a theater marquee. (Winchel -> Winchell)

He was friends with hundreds of celebrities, including gangsters, actors, and government officials. Above he is pictured with Marilyn Monroe.

He was also the narrator of “The Untouchables” from 1959 to 1963.

Winchell has been represented in multiple movies and television shows, along with being a usual name drop in songs, and scripts. He has also had books written about him and his time a life-long gossiper, one of which was written by Neal Gabler.

 

References

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2016, May 01). Walter Winchell. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Walter-Winchell

The Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (2007, September 20). 15 Terms Popularized by Walter Winchell. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from https://people.howstuffworks.com/15-terms-popularized-by-walter-winchell.htm

Products. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://www.radiohof.org/walter_winchell.htm

Rich;, F. (1994, October 22). He Got the Poop on America. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/23/books/he-got-the-poop-on-america.html?pagewanted=all

Weinraub, B. (1998, November 17). He Turned Gossip Into Tawdry Power; Walter Winchell, Who Climbed High and Fell Far, Still Scintillates. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/18/arts/he-turned-gossip-into-tawdry-power-walter-winchell-who-climbed-high-fell-far.html

Walter Winchell. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Walter_Winchell#Legacy

Walter Winchell papers 1920-1967. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from http://archives.nypl.org/the/21480#descriptive_identity

 

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